VEGECOL : Road pavement with a plant-based binder for light traffic lanes

The long-term goal of the present project is to replace petroleum-based bitumen (the binder used in asphalt mixes for roadways) with a plant-based binder. The first step in deployment consists in doing away with petroleum-based, colorable synthetic binders. The advantage of abandoning a fossil-based resource is twofold: the replacement renewable resource sequestrates carbon and produces attractive light-colored mixes.

Main project's drivers for reducing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

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Energy and resource efficiency

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Energy Decarbonisation

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Energy efficiency improvements

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Improving efficiency in non-energy resources

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Emission removal

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Financing low-carbon issuers or disinvestment from carbon assets

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Reduction of other greenhouse gases emission

Project objectives

Goal 1 - Reduce the carbon footprint of this type of pavement:
- By using plant-based raw materials instead of bitumen, a non-renewable petroleum-based resource, - By reducing the energy consumption of the pavement manufacturing process, thanks to lower temperatures than for the production of traditional asphalt mixes.
Goal 2 - Promote solutions with light and/or natural colors to accentuate the albedo effect and, thereby, combat urban heat islands.

Detailed project description

As a global player in the construction and maintenance of transport infrastructure, Colas is committed to providing ever-more effective products and to meeting the growing expectations of road users, residents and society at large. These needs include improved living conditions, comfort, safety and environmental protection.


With Vegecol, Colas is able to provide an environmentally-friendly alternative to asphalt mixes, by replacing non-renewable petroleum-based bitumen with a binder made mainly from plant-based raw materials. 


What’s more, this binder’s translucency allows the aggregate’s natural color to show through, which makes for aesthetically pleasing cycling paths, sidewalks and urban development projects. Vegecol proves ideal for improving various living environments.


This product is part of the Colas Group’s pledge to lower carbon emissions, which includes ambitious targets in line with the Paris Agreement: reducing the Group’s direct greenhouse gas emissions (Scopes 1 and 2) by 30% and its indirect upstream emissions (Scope 3a) by 30% by 2030.

Emission scope(s)

on which the project has a significant impact

Scope 1

Direct emissions generated by the company's activity.

Scope 2

Indirect emissions associated with the company's electricity and heat consumption.

Scope 3

Emissions induced (upstream or downstream) by the company's activities, products and/or services in its value chain.

Emission Removal

Carbon sinks creation, (BECCS, CCU/S, …)

Avoided Emissions

Emissions avoided by the activities, products and/or services in charge of the project, or by the financing of emission reduction projects.

Scope 1 – Decrease in plants’ fossil fuel consumption

Quantities :

  • Production of traditional asphalt: 16kg CO2eq/t Production of Vegecol: 14.5kg CO2eq/t                          
  • Production of asphalt with synthetic binder: 17.5kg CO2eq/t

Scope 3 – Bitumen and colorable synthetic binders replaced with plant-based VEGECOL, which has a much smaller carbon footprint   

Quantities :

  • Emission factor for bitumen: +250kg CO2eq/t      
  • Emission factor for colorable synthetic petroleum-based binder: +1,500kg CO2eq/t
  • Emission factor for Vegecol: up to -250kg CO2eq/t

In the current market, clear asphalt mixes with synthetic petroleum-based binder have an emission factor of around +1500kg CO2eq/t. Bitumen (traditional binder) scores around +250kg CO2eq/t and Vegecol binder boasts an emission factor of -250kg CO2eq/t. Therefore, emissions are reduced by 1,750kg CO2eq for each ton of Vegecol used instead of the same amount of synthetic binder, and 500kg CO2eq for each ton of Vegecol used instead of bitumen.

In terms of energy, a natural gas burner consumes approximately 75 kWh per ton of conventional asphalt produced. Replacing bitumen by Vegecol binder leads to about 10% reduction in energy consumption. Given that gas has an emission factor of 214kg CO2eq/MWh HHV, the use of Vegecol reduces emissions by around 1.5kg CO2eq per ton of asphalt produced. When used instead of synthetic binder, Vegecol reduces emissions by around 3.0kg CO2eq per ton of asphalt produced.

Key points

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Invested amount

Funds essentially went towards R&D. New industrial equipment or works are not required, given that the solution is compatible with Colas’ current capabilities.

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Starting date of the project


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Project localisation

It will mainly be deployed on several sites in mainland France, followed by several sites abroad.

Project maturity level

Prototype laboratory test (TRL 7)

Real life testing (TRL 7-8)

Pre-commercial prototype (TRL 9)

Small-scale implementation

Medium to large scale implementation

Economic profitability of the project

Short term (0-3 years)

Middle term (4-10 years)

Long term (> 10 years)

Illustrations of the project

As far as the SDGs are concerned, Vegecol falls under Objective 13: measures to combat climate change.

Another notable benefit of Vegecol pavements is their ability to increase albedo levels compared to traditional dark-colored asphalt pavements.

This solution can technically be replicated on a global scale through local sourcing.

No partnerships.

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Contact the company carrying the project :

Thierry Delcroix -
Colas Technical Research and Development Department

Bouygues’s other projects :